A newly released independent study, Scoping and Diagnosis of the Global Sanitation Fund’s Approach to Equality and Non-Discrimination (EQND), confirms that many people who may be considered disadvantaged have benefitted positively from GSF-supported programmes. However, the study also finds that more proactive and systematic attention is needed to ensure no one is left behind.
Photos: The community members and champions shown here, from Nepal, Senegal, Togo, Nigeria and Malawi, provided key insights and testimonials for the study. Credit: WSSCC
Research and evidence to strengthen EQND
GSF’s foundational principles included that it would incorporate gender considerations and equity dimensions in its supported programmes. Moreover, the Fund considered EQND in its initial identification of countries and in prioritizing poorer and underserved geographical areas.
However, when it was launched in 2008, GSF had not yet developed appropriate tools and systems to address EQND systematically, but with time, the Fund steadily strengthened EQND considerations.
In 2016, WSSCC recruited an independent team of experts to undertake an in-depth diagnosis of GSF’s approach to EQND, to strengthen programming and contribute to the sanitation and hygiene sector knowledge base.
The first part of the diagnosis – an assessment of six countries (Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) and a review of documentation across all GSF-supported programmes – was completed in 2017, resulting in the newly released study.
Positive outcomes, but more proactive focus needed
The study reveals that many people who may be considered disadvantaged have benefited positively from GSF-supported programmes, particularly in open defecation free verified areas. In addition, a range of positive outcomes and impacts related to empowerment, safety, convenience, ease of use, self-esteem, health, dignity, an improved environment and income generation were reported by people who may be considered disadvantaged.
However, the study finds that GSF has not yet systematically integrated EQND throughout the programme cycle. Across all countries, there are people who have either fallen through the net or whose lives have become more difficult after being unduly pressured, or after taking out loans and selling assets to build toilets. More proactive attention is needed throughout the programme cycle to build on current successes and ensure that people are not left behind or harmed through the actions or omissions of supported programmes.
Members of a Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) committee in Aklotsi Village, Togo, raise their hands to show their commitment to maintaining open defecation free status in their village. Credit: WSSCC
GSF is in the process of putting the study’s recommendations into practice through revised guidelines, minimum standards, practical tools and other mechanisms.
David Shimkus, the GSF Programme Director at WSSCC, welcomed the study’s findings and recommendations. He said:
“With 2.3 billion people still reported to lack access to basic sanitation and the call for universal sanitation and hygiene under Sustainable Development Goal 6.2, WSSCC’s GSF remains strongly placed to contribute to this target through its deliberate design for scale. But universal scale, where no one is left behind, can only be reached with a systematic focus on EQND.
Strengthening EQND will require safe spaces, learning mechanisms and platforms, and constructive engagement with the broader WASH sector grappling with these same issues. WSSCC looks forward to sharing challenges and successes along the way.”
WSSCC is committed to helping improve gender equality (Sustainable Development Goal 5) and reducing inequalities (Goal 10) through its sanitation and hygiene programmes, as described in its 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.
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